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FA L L 2 0 1 5


R E A LT O R . O R G / R A E

Report Guides
Page 4

Survey the
Right Way
How to gather member data to better
shape your programs and services Page 10

Page 16

Does Your
Reflect Your
Page 18


2015–2016 RAE Editorial
Advisory Board

R E A LT O R . O R G / R A E

Fall 2015

Kipp Cooper, RCE
Kansas City Regional Association
of REALTORS® and Heartland MLS
Christopher Harrigan, RCE
National Association



D.A.N.G.E.R. Report
Guides Association
Strategic Planning

Vicki Heebner
Ocean City Board of
Jessica Hickok, RCE
Greater Springfield Board
Kevin Juliano
Pennsylvania Association
Sharon Kerrigan
South Tahoe Association
of REALTORS®, Calif.
Peggy Missel, RCE
Midwest City-Del City-Moore
Association of REALTORS®, Okla.

Page 4

Survey Members
the Right Way
Planning and writing surveys that
generate insightful and actionable
data is harder than you think.
Page 10

AE voices

Kimberly Pontius, RCE
Traverse Area Association
of REALTORS® , Mich.

Mentoring Imperative

Donna Reynolds, RCE
Santa Fe Association
Mike Ruzicka, RCE , CAE
Greater Milwaukee
Association of REALTORS®


P age 5

Cheap and easy technology
transforms information
into engaging graphics.


Indianapolis REALTORS® score
win-win with graffiti abatement

Page 16


Diversity in
For understanding member
needs, member participation
may trump data.
Page 18



Marc Lebowitz

need to know

CEO of the Tucson Association
of REALTORS® on embracing
the value of change.


Page 28

Harness Data
to Drive Value
What state associations plan
to do with more information
about members.
Page 13



The RAE editorial board reviews
each issue and provides critical
feedback, proposes story ideas,
and stays in touch with fellow
AEs nationwide to scout out
new programs and products to
share with the AE community.
To join the editorial board,
write an article, or contribute
information, e-mail Carolyn

Take Data Beyond
Charts & Graphs

Page 2

Pamela VanLuven
Grand Rapids Association
of REALTORS®, Mich.

Dale Zahn, RCE
West Michigan Lakeshore
Association of REALTORS®


Association charity events, fundraisers, and other ideas to inspire
your community involvement.


Andrew Sims
Birmingham Association

Roger Yohem
Tucson Association of REALTORS®


Page 8

Brian Pilon
Wilmington Regional Association

Salvatore I. Prividera Jr.
New York State Association


Read past issues in text and
PDF format, plus access online

Know Everything
About Real Estate
Where to find the answers
to nearly any real estate
question members ask.
Page 14

The Next Property
Rights Frontier
Figuring out where the right
to rent fits into protecting
home ownership.
Page 22


Plan Now for a
Smooth 2016
Embed Core Standards
in your day-to-day
organization practice.
Page 24


Vulnerable to


New legal risk for
REALTORS® serving on
real estate commissions.


Page 26

T WIT TER @RealtorAEmag

Join the 2016/2017 REALTOR® AE magazine editorial board
Stay tuned to your weekly INS reports later this year for the call for volunteers or
send an e-mail to RAE Editor Carolyn Schwaar at

FALL 2015



AE voices: AE committee chair update

Leadership’s Mentoring Imperative
minutes. Hours later, I was sold. His atten­

to every day. I understand the gift he gave

tion and focus on my career goals didn’t stop

me as a mentor, and, just as I encourage my

after that first meeting. Instead, they grew.

staff to do, I urge you to take on your leader­

I’m not sure I can adequately express

ship role with great pride and responsibility.

how important it was for me to have a strong

Your effect on those around you—colleagues

mentor as I moved up through the associa­

and coworkers—can be considerable.

s I prepare to close this chapter as

tion. I had someone who was there to teach

Remember that your leadership in times of

chair of the 2015 Association Execu­

me skills for situations no classroom could

hardship can often define your style, and

tive Committee, I’d like to share a

dream up and someone to tell me when I did

your leadership in the best of times can

something wrong and allow me to find a way

define your approachability. Understand

Jarrod C. Grasso, RCE ,
CEO, New Jersey
Association of
REALTORS®, 2015 chair
of the AE Committee


little bit about how I got to where I am today.

to fix it. He was a strong leader, someone

that everyone around you has goals and

Ferguson, who loyally served as executive

who put it all out there for the greater good.

aspirations that are different and unique and

vice president of the New Jersey Associa­

He gained loyal followers like me because he

worthy to them.

tion of REALTORS® for more than 40 years.

proved, time and again, that his leadership

When he approached me to work in the

was effective and unmatched.

My story doesn’t exist without Robert F.

meeting was supposed to last only a few

day goes by that I don’t think about him or

I set out to be the version of myself that

government affairs department, our first

Ferg passed away Jan. 12, 2010. Not a

Ferg believed in. It’s a task I aim to live up

wish I had the opportunity to talk to him one
more time. I think he would agree with this
last piece of advice: Aim to lead not only
your membership but those within your
association to great, valuable careers they
are proud of.
It has been an honor to serve with the
NAR Leadership Team led by President Chris
Polychron. I wish our incoming AE chairman,
Marc Lebowitz, and incoming vice chair­
man, Mike Theo, the best of luck in 2016. I’d
like to extend a sincere thank you to Steve
Franks who served as the AEC liaison to the

Staff of the
New Jersey
Association of

Chair, Association Executives Committee Jarrod C. Grasso, RCE
Dale A. Stinton, RCE, CAE

CEO, National Association of REALTORS®
Senior Vice President, Communications

Stephanie Singer

VP, Business-to-Business Communications
430 N. Michigan Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60611–4087
500 New Jersey Ave., N.W.,

Editor, REALTOR® AE magazine
Contributing Editors

Stacey Moncrieff

Carolyn Schwaar

Paula Pisani, Bob Soron

Washington, DC 20001–2020

Questions and comments e-mail:


Advertising Sales

Natalie Matter DeSoto,

800-501-9571 or 717-580-8184,



FALL 2015

Executive Committee. To all the staff at NAR,
especially the Leadership Team liaison to the
AEC, Stephanie Walker, your hard work does
not go unnoticed.

©2015 by the National Association of REALTORS®. All rights reserved.
(ISSN 0034-0804) REALTOR® AE is a professional magazine published
four times yearly by the National Association of REALTORS® as a service
for REALTOR® association executives. Articles in this magazine are written
from the perspective of the REALTOR® asso­ciation executive. REALTOR®
AE is an informational publication of local, state, and national association
programs, activities, and current trends and ideas in association management and their practical application in REALTOR® associations. Views
and advertising expressed in REALTOR® AE are not necessarily those of or
endorsed by the National Association of REALTORS®. Magazine archives
available online at ­ Reprint permission:
Call 312-329-8874. Distribution: Local and state executive
officers, association staff, and MLS directors.
Subscriptions: Call 800-874-6500.


news: hot topics

D.A.N.G.E.R. Report
Guides Association
Strategic Planning


ssociations across the country are using a new tool at strategic planning sessions: the D.A.N.G.E.R. report and its online
interactive component.

Released in May, the 164-page report commissioned by NAR from

real estate consultant Stefan Swanepoel details 50 threats, risks,
and challenges the real estate industry is facing today or could face
in the near future. It has been widely discussed and debated on social
media and has become the focal point of roundtable discussions,
membership luncheons, leadership retreats, and planning meetings
at REALTOR® associations nationwide.
The report presents scenarios to consider, such as agent teams
threatening the survival of brokerages or the impact a national MLS
might have on associations. The goal of the D.A.N.G.E.R (Definitive
Analysis of Negative Game Changers Emerging in Real Estate) report
is to help every brokerage, MLS, and association think through some
fundamental threats and changes that may be coming to the real
estate industry.
In New York, state association CEO Duncan MacKenzie, RCE, has
been talking about the D.A.N.G.E.R. report at regional REALTOR®

The Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS® was among dozens of
associations that hosted a D.A.N.G.E.R. report-focused event since the
release of the study in May.

luncheons around the state. “A few local boards said that they would
use it as reference for their 2016 strategic planning,” he says.
The Atlanta Board of REALTORS® hosted an invitation-only,

this threat will affect your association, when it could impact your
association, and how big of an effect this danger will have on your

candid roundtable discussion with area brokers about the report

association. The program sorts the dangers by level of threat in each

facilitated by Mike Oppler, vice chair of NAR’s Strategic Thinking

of five sections: agents, brokers, associations, NAR, and MLS.

Advisory Committee, which commissioned the study. The event,

The threat level survey at, like the print report,

“What the DANGER Report Means to You,” guided brokers through

doesn’t offer any solutions to the challenges. The survey is a com-

the issues that may threaten their businesses in the years to come.

panion to—not a replacement for—reading the full report and is a

The San Mateo County Association of REALTORS® in California

way to guide a group discussion focused on your individual associa-

invited real estate consultant Adorna Carroll to host a presentation

tion or MLS. Have association staff and elected leaders complete the

of the report to its membership at a monthly meeting and at the new

threat level survey individually before discussing it as a group.

member orientation. “We had a pretty good reaction to the report,

The D.A.N.G.E.R. report is based on data from a national survey

with a lot of questions and answers afterward,” says association

of approximately 7,800 REALTORS® and interviews with 74 high-

communications director Nasreen Willis. “The YPNers are already

level executives and other real estate industry leaders. The report

ahead of the game and pretty much agreed with the report.”

also takes other real estate–related studies, reports, articles, and
surveys into account.

Online report component

NAR’s leadership and Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee will

To help guide the discussion process, an interactive and customiz-

discuss all the report’s findings over the next year to create future

able survey of dangers is posted at Each of the

strategic direction based on what they find useful, forward-

50 dangers is presented with options to select how likely you believe

thinking, progressive, and actionable.




Successful Programs
Consumer Outreach: Enhancing the REALTOR® image.

No Drone Photos, Unless ...
After a great deal of research, much discussion, the advice of legal
counsel, and approval from NAR, the board of directors of the West
Michigan Lakeshore Association of REALTORS® has banned from
its MLS photos taken with a drone, says association CEO Dale Zahn,
RCE, unless the MLS subscriber can submit

proof that the photos were taken in compliance with all requirements of the
Federal Aviation Administration and
other applicable laws regulating
the use of drones for commercial
In its memo to subscribers,

The “Home Ownership Matters” float created by the Ashland
Board of REALTORS® in Ohio was a popular attraction in the city of

the association said the decision

Ashland’s bicentennial parade. Members of the association’s Public

was about “safety and security and

Relations Committee and leadership wore REALTOR® T-shirts while

following the law. The directors are

walking with the float and handing out candy.

not saying a member cannot use drone
photography. They are saying do it right. To

Consumer Outreach: Enhancing the REALTOR® image.

do it right, this means obtaining a Section 333 waiver from the FAA.”
The new MLS rule states that any photos, videos, images, or
depictions submitted in violation of the rule will be removed from
display and the participant will be subject to disciplinary action.

The Montgomery County Association of REALTORS® in Pennsylvania
hosted its annual golf outing July 20 as a fundraiser for Family Services
of Montgomery County. More than 120 people golfed and more than

Join NAR in the Centennial
Celebration of the
REALTOR® Trademark

180 attended a dinner and silent auction to raise a record $18,000.
Consumer Outreach: Enhancing the REALTOR® image.

The trademark term “REALTOR®” was adopted in 1916 to identify the
members of the National Association of REALTORS®, a revolutionary
group of individuals deeply committed to integrity, community, and
protecting the American dream of property ownership. Throughout
2016, NAR will celebrate the association’s history, future, and
members. As part of the celebration, NAR will launch an interactive
website late this year where members can share how they are
making a difference within their communities. Local associations
are asked to encourage their members to submit stories and to

The South Metro Denver REALTOR® Association and RE/MAX

nominate commendable members whose contributions show pride

partnered with Habitat for Humanity to provide half of a full-home

in who they are and how they are helping consumers understand

sponsorship ($42,500). REALTOR® volunteers were onsite in August

the power of REALTORS®. Look for more information in early 2016.

to help build the house for a deserving family.




news: new resources
REALTOR® Association Featured as Model
of Board Governance in New Book
The success story and best practices

achieve desired results, including techniques

of the Northern Virginia Associations of

for altering expectations and changing

­REALTORS® and its former CEO, Christine

bylaws, structures, policies, and roles. Based

Todd, in cultivating a highly effective board

on research funded by the ASAE Foundation,

of directors are featured

the book fills a gap in the

in the new book, Transfor-

governance literature by

mational Governance: How

emphasizing diagnosis

Boards Achieve Extraordi-

and problem solving,

The Santa Fe Association of REALTORS®’

nary Change. Building on

using the actual tools and

new “Welcome to Santa Fe” guide

the previous research of

activities implemented by

features a wealth of information for

member-­serving association

85 transformed associa-

new home owners and residents alike,

boards highlighted in What

tions. Combining the cred-

including extensive information on

Makes High-­Performing

ibility of scholarly research

local affordable housing programs

Boards, authors Beth Gazley

with lively and compelling

and services. The association received

and Katha Kissman focus on

stories, tools, and teachable

funding from NAR’s Housing Opportunity

the stages and processes

moments, this book is de-

Program Grant program to produce

signed to help associations

the guide, which includes a section

CEOs and their staff used to
transform volunteer boards—bringing about

and other nonprofit organizations achieve

where members can add their personal

significant changes in governance practices

the entire journey to good governance, from

information for sharing with clients.

that had positive effect. The authors explore

first to last steps. It’s available at Amazon.

in depth the actions a board can take to

com in hardcover and e-book.

Are Your Members Ready for TRID?
On Nov. 20, 2013, the U.S. Consumer

Direct your members to the myriad

Bring NAR Tech Edge
to Your Board in 2016
Contact the National Association of
REALTORS® by Nov. 1 if you would like

Financial Protection Bureau ruled to

resources available to help them understand

your association to host one of eight

integrate disclosures and regulations

the changes. Among the online resources is

NAR Tech Edge events planned for 2016.

required by RESPA and the Truth in Lending

a sharable NAR video explaining the closing

The event is a one-day conference that

Act. The final rule, called TILA-RESPA

changes (at

brings the latest business technology to

Integrated Disclosure, or TRID, integrates

respa-integrated-disclosure), the Field Guide

your members. NAR speakers and local

existing disclosures with new requirements

to the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure

technology experts present sessions on

from the Dodd-Frank Act to improve

Rule (at

everything from mobile marketing and

consumer understanding of the mortgage


online identities to Facebook for business

process, aid in comparison shopping, and

sure-rule-trid), and the Consumer Financial

and content creation. For more, visit

help prevent surprises at the closing table.

Protection Bureau’s “Know Before You Owe:

These changes take effect Oct. 3.

The Real Estate Professional’s Guide” (at

A recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS® found that most
members are aware of the mortgage closing
NAR has established a strong cooperative

changes, yet when asked if they are ready for

relationship with the CFPB to communicate

the change, slightly more than 20 percent of

the resources available to REALTORS®, and

members said they were not ready or only

to work together to address the impact TRID

somewhat ready.

will have on closings.




The Transaction Solution to Help
Your Members Succeed

Serving REALTORS® for 100 years.
Since 1915 Florida Realtors®, the nation’s second-largest state association,
has looked out for REALTORS®’ best interests. With the advancement of
technology and the vision of going paperless, in 2011 we launched Form
Simplicity, a transaction management platform designed and developed with
our members’ needs in mind. It was a big success. In 2012 Form Simplicity’s
paperless solution became available to state and local associations across
the nation.
Florida Realtors strives to utilize technology to better assist REALTORS®
and their profession. Provide your members with the total transaction
solution for real estate professionals. Provide them with Form Simplicity.

Top Features
Smart Forms
Sharing & Negotiating Tools
New Broker Compliance Tools
Cloud Storage
Digital Signatures
U.S.-Based Tech Support

Contact Us

Meet Us
transactions made simple

Form Simplicity and Tech Helpline are owned by Florida Realtors®

Join us at booth #1038 in
San Diego at the REALTORS®
Conference & Expo

news: Realtor® Party
Indianapolis REALTORS® Score Win-Win
With Graffiti Abatement Program
Using a Game Changer Grant from the National Association of REALTORS®, the

REALTORS® Help Elect
Pro-Business REALTOR®
Champion to City Council

Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® joined forces with other local

When a seat opened up on the San Jose, Calif., city council

funders to create the mobile Graffiti Abatement Unit that responds to calls

last January, the 5,000-member Santa Clara County As-

from residents reporting graffiti and from property owners who are unable to

sociation of REALTORS® took action. It saw an opportunity

remove graffiti from their own houses and businesses. The program uses a

to elect a candidate who would stand up for its issues on

donated fire truck and a trailer fully loaded with equipment and is staffed by

a council that was fairly evenly divided between labor and

Recycle Force, a program helping former inmates reenter the workforce with

business. And there were a number of significant property-

dignity, viable skills, and a strong work ethic.
The associations celebrated the launch of the

rights issues looming on the horizon.
Adding a grant from the REALTOR® Party to political

Graffiti Abatement Unit on June 24 with a vol-

action funds of its own, the association supported

unteer opportunity and news conference, which

­REALTOR® champion Manh Nguyen, a Vietnamese-­

brought out about 20 members who painted sev-

American businessman, with a powerful and positive

eral high-profile sites along a major thoroughfare.

independent expenditure campaign. He won a decisive

“The challenges of graffiti are not unique to
Indianapolis; communities across the country

victory in the June election.
Shortly after the election, Nguyen attended SCCAOR’s

are dealing with it,” says Chris Pryor, government

annual membership picnic, where he expressed his grati-

affairs director of the 6,850-member association.

tude and took the time to meet with members. “We invite

“Programs like this are one way that REALTORS®

all the local elected officials,” says association Government

can have a direct impact on the issue of crime,” he

Affairs Director Vince Rocha. “Many of them make a point

says. “We believe it’s a terrific way for REALTORS® to be a part of the solution in

of coming because they know that REALTORS® understand

supporting a healthy real estate market and a safer, more vibrant community.”

the needs of the community and our neighborhoods.”

Washington State REALTORS® Help Defeat Two Tax Hikes
In consultation with the National Association

deeply involved in the effort, and members

groups representing small businesses,

of REALTORS®’ Campaign Services team,

responded energetically to the association’s

he adds, the Washington Association was

the Washington Association of REALTORS®

calls to action; they also tackled the tax issue

able to fight a tax on its members without

developed an extended two-part plan it

as a focal point of their annual Hill Day, when

appearing self-serving.

called “Recover Washington” to battle

they meet with members of the legislature

proposed tax hikes. First, in the past election

to discuss matters that affect the real estate

campaign scored two major wins. First, a

year, the association worked hard to get

industry. “It was a great marriage of NAR

20 percent increase in the gross receipts tax

as many friends as possible in place in the

resources, our association’s resources, and

paid by REALTORS® was deleted from the

legislature; second, with a significant Issues

the grassroots effort of members out in the

proposed tax package. Then, a new 7 percent

Mobilization grant from the REALTOR®

field,” says association GAD Nathan Gorton.

capital gains tax on investment properties

Party and the participation of a 25-member
coalition of small business advocacy groups,

By leading a coalition of like-minded

In the end, the “Recover Washington”

and second homes was defeated after a bitter
battle that went into special session.

the association conducted a major public

“It’s been a long, hard fight, and a real

issue campaign, making use of television,

roller-coaster ride at times,” says association

radio, online ads, social media, mailers, and

CEO Steve Francks, “but in the end, I can

paid calls targeting swing districts, all with

proudly say that this was as good a legislative

the counsel of NAR’s razor-sharp polling

session as WR has ever had. And we could


not have achieved this victory without the

Washington Association leadership was



tremendous support and expertise of NAR.”


Collecting and Using Members’ Feedback

the Right Way
Technology tools make launching surveys easy, but planning and writing surveys
that generate insightful and actionable data is harder than you think.


urvey design is a skill and, in a perfect world,

scenario, the data will guide your program development,

everyone would hire research professionals. But

so be sure that leadership is on board with following where

time and budget constraints lead association staff

the data guides you.

to conduct surveys themselves. Here are a few basic ways

3. Define the problem. What issue will the survey

to make sure that your DIY surveys yield solid information

results help you resolve? In this case, there’s a perceived

you can act on.

lack of value in member services.

Most REALTOR® associations conduct surveys. Mem­

4. Put together a research objective. A research

ber feedback is critical for strategic planning and program

objective should be very clear and simple, and phrased:

and service development. In fact, surveys can measure

“To determine or measure X in order to Y.” Here, the

and quantify just about anything, but should always be

objective could be, “To determine what new service would

undertaken with a specific business need or question in

be of most value to our members right now in order to

mind. Approach survey building carefully so the data you

create a program that will increase the value proposition

get back can guide the decisions you need to make.

of membership.”

For example, let’s say your association wants to re­

Once you’ve taken these initial steps, you’re ready to

examine “the way things have always been done” and

write your survey questions. The major things to keep

create new value for your members. A survey can help you

in mind when designing a survey are that you want it to:

figure out how to create the best possible programs and
services for your members. So where do you start?

• Be easy for your members to answer honestly
and with as little of their time and energy as possible.
• Reflect as little of your own bias as possible (and

There are several steps to take before writing
survey questions:
1. Know what question you need the data to answer.
Let’s say you want to find the one new service that would
most benefit members right now.
2. Know what you’re going to do with the data. The
information you get back needs to be actionable. In this



we all have biases).
• Reflect the group you’re trying to draw conclusions
from (in this case, all of your members).
• Enable you to draw conclusions from the data in
terms of who your members are and what they need.
• Yield actionable information for your association.
Continued on page 12


Survey versus
focus group

Association Value Survey

Surveys (quantitative research) and

These questions are samples of what you might include in a member
survey intended to measure the use and effectiveness of association
products and services.

1. How useful do you fi nd the
association’s website?
1 Not at all useful
2 Not very useful
3 Of neutral use
4 Useful
5 Very useful
I don’t use the association website
2 How often do you read the
association’s weekly e-newsletter?
1 every week
2 a few times a month
3 once a month
4 less than once a month
5 rarely
6 never
Not sure
3. Have you taken any education
courses at the association?
Not sure
4. Have you ever attended the
association annual convention?
No (SKIP to Q6)
Not sure
5. How useful did you fi nd the event on
a scale of 1 to 5?
1 Not at all useful
2 Not very useful
3 Of neutral use
4 Useful
5 Very useful
6. Please describe the most
valuable product or service
you receive from the

7. For each of the following
association services, please rate your
satisfaction level:
1: Very Dissatisfied, 2: Dissatisfied,
3: Neutral, 4: Satisfied, 5: Very Satisfied,
6: I’m not aware of or have never used
this service
• Monthly magazine
• Facebook group
• Networking mixers
• C.E. classes
• Online education
• Legal hotline
• Open house tour
• Market reports
8. Are you interested in
volunteering for an association
committee or work group?
Not sure
9. What product or service not
offered by the association
would you most want to see?
10. If you have any further
comments, please let us
know here:
11. How many years have you
been in real estate?
12. Please describe your main
business function in real estate:
Residential sales
Brokerage management
Commercial sales
Resort/second home

focus groups (qualitative research)
are not interchangeable. Which
one to choose depends on your
research objective or what you
need to do with the information.
If you need to explore or uncover
issues or underlying reasons for
behaviors, then you need a focus
group. If you need to measure or
determine behaviors or factors
that you are already positive you
understand, then you’re ready for a
survey. If you aren’t even sure what
your members’ greatest needs
are right now or how to address
them, you need to talk to some of
them using qualitative research.
You can’t measure how big the
problems are if you’re not sure what
the problems are in the first place.

Anonymous or
Your surveys should always be
anonymous. You can collect member
information for a drawing at the end,
but if you want honest responses,
you need to assure your members
that their individual responses
will not be connected with any
identifying information. Yet you can
still ask demographic questions,
such as function in real estate, age,
years in real estate, gender, and
income. These are good ways to
segment your results to see if there
are differences among groups. But
your members need to know that
that information will not be used
to market to them and will not be
passed on to a third party.





Continued from page 10
In our scenario, your questions should
address not only what members want and
need but also which association services
members are aware of.

Surveys Dos
1. Give your members an “out.” If there is
any chance that someone might not have an
answer or opinion about a question, include
“Don’t know” or “No opinion” as responses.
Allow your members to respond honestly.
Not allowing for these neutral responses
will skew your data and make your results

If you find yourself
wanting to ask
many open-ended
questions, you
shouldn’t be doing
a survey because
you don’t yet know
what you need to

them to rate how useful that resource is on
a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 is “not at all useful”
and 5 is “very useful.” If you must ask a
yes-or-no question (for instance, whether
your members support a particular piece of
legislation), you still need to give them an out
of “No opinion.”
8. Use imbalanced rating scales. If you
do use a scale, make it uneven. Your mem­
bers need to be allowed a middle ground. If
you give them an even scale, you’ve forced a
response, either positive or negative. Allow
for neutral feelings or you’ll skew your data.
9. Keep your surveys as brief as pos­


sible. If it takes you or a staff member longer

2. Ask one question at a time. For
instance, if you want to know which services

what they think in their own words. “If you

than 10 minutes to take it, it’s probably too

your members are actually aware of as well

have any further comments, please let us

long. Consider sending two shorter surveys

as how useful they find them, ask these

know here” with a comment box underneath

stretched across a longer period of time.

questions separately. Ask only those who are

is a great way to end a survey. Don’t offer an

If you absolutely must send out a length­

aware of a particular service to tell you how

e-mail address for them to send comments;

ier survey, make sure you’re offering your

useful they find it. If you ask your members

build commenting into your survey. Keep

­members an incentive to participate.

how useful they find something they didn’t

in mind that it’s very difficult (sometimes

know existed, you’ve skewed your data.

impossible) to quantify the responses to

Survey Don’ts

open-ended questions. If you find yourself

1. Don’t make sensitive questions

tive. For every question, think of as many

wanting to ask many open-ended questions,

mandatory. Certain questions about

responses as possible and use those as your

you shouldn’t be doing a survey because you

income or transaction sides can make your

options. Include a final response option of

don’t yet know what you need to measure.

respondents uneasy. Make those questions

“Other, please specify” with a single-line

Back up and talk to your members via

optional—and for income-related questions,

comment box to cover anything you might

­qualitative research, such as telephone

put the responses in ranges. A member

not have thought of.

interviews or focus groups.

might not be willing to tell you that he made

3. Make your response lists exhaus-

4. Use skip patterns. Even the most

6. Phrase the questions in a neutral

only $15,000 in real estate in 2014, but

basic survey software will allow you to

way. Take a hard look at your own need to

might be willing to say that he earned

program a survey so that people who answer

hear particular answers, and make sure that

“less than $20,000.”

one way to a particular question will then

doesn’t come through in your survey. Resist

get another question that applies to them,

the urge to explain why a particular service is

need to give background before members

and people who answer another way won’t

important, for example, if what you’re trying

can answer a question, make that back­

see that question. Skip patterns ensure that

to measure is how important your members

ground brief and to the point. No one will

you don’t waste your members’ time with

think it is.

read a full page of anything before answering

questions they can’t answer, and that they

7. Avoid yes-or-no questions. There are

aren’t giving responses that make no sense.

very few cases in which your members will

If you’re using a hard-copy survey, you can

have responses as black and white as “yes”

write, “If no, skip to question X.”

or “no” to anything. You will get a much more

5. Add at least one open-ended

realistic idea of how your members feel

­question–but use no more than three.

about something using a rating scale. For

Your members will always want a question at

instance, instead of asking, “Do you find X

the end of the survey that lets them tell you

member resource useful,” consider asking



2. Don’t complicate the survey. If you

a question. And keep the questions them­
selves brief, clear, and conversational.

Lisa Herceg is the director
of marketing research for
the National Association of
REALTORS®. Contact her
at 312-329-8563 or


need to know: big data

Harness Data to Drive Value
What state associations plan to do with more information about members.


s consumers, we know that every

such as our legal hotline, and collect data

ect—the platform to collect and organize all

time we use our rewards card at a

on past occupations, languages, real estate

of this data—is RAMCO, the AE­designed

store or search for something on

specialties, leadership roles, as well as

REALTOR® Association Management

Amazon, these companies collect infor­

demographic information such as age and

System Co­Operative. With this platform,

mation about our inclinations and habits.

marital status, plus all the political informa­

associations of any size can collect and put

Large retailers are expert at predicting our

tion available from other sources,” says the

to use a wide range of member information.

preferences and offering discounts on the

organization’s Communications Director

products we’re actually interested in (most

Steve Klaniecki.

to display the posts and updates we’ve
shown to favor in the past.
This all works to create a more productive
and inviting environment for consumers and
a win for companies such as Amazon and
Facebook and their advertisers, since we are
likely to use these sites more often and buy
more products.
How can harnessing data about mem­
bers be used to boost value, create a more
welcoming environment, and cultivate a

The more we know about our
members, their relationship
to the association and their
real estate background,
the better we can target
messages a Washington
nd services to the right
REALTORS® at the right time
in their careers. That’s how
you provide value.”
—Steve Francks, CEO,
Washington Association of REALTORS®

The ultimate goal of the REALTORS®’

culled from a wide variety of association and

project is to boost association value, says

public data sources including census and

association CEO Steve Francks.

voter registration, associations can build a

sylvania Association of REALTORS®. PAR is
also launching a data project initially aimed
at tracking use of association programs.
“By tracking those who are involved with
our board and those who use some of our
member benefits, we can essentially do
reverse marketing to those who aren’t taking
advantage of specific programs,” says
Juliano. “If we see a dip in one program, we
can target members who may have not used
the service and remind those who may have
only used it sparingly. Ultimately, we want to
share the importance of state membership

more successful REALTOR® association?
With a rich collection of data on members

better picture of our members,” says Kevin
Juliano, digital media manager at the Penn­

of the time). It’s the same on sites including
Facebook and LinkedIn, which use our habits

“With RAMCO, we’ll be able to see a

“Our research tells us that no single value

and the benefits REALTORS® receive.”
By using an e­mail system called Exact
Target from Salesforce, which plugs into
RAMCO, PAR can automate the delivery of

full profile of each member. Using this data,

proposition fits every member,” Francks

custom messaging to targeted groups of

they can better track the use and perfor­

says. “Different REALTORS® have different


mance of products and services, better

needs and expectations of their association,

target future offerings, and eventually save

depending on their specialty, location, years

too many e­mails, but then we hear from

members time and money. With background

in the business, management responsibility,

some of the same members that they didn’t

data on members such as college degrees,

and the like. So the more we know about our

know about an event or program,” says

home ownership, and previous careers or

members, their relationship to the associa­

Juliano. “Our goal is to allow each member

volunteer experience, associations can bet­

tion, and their real estate background, the

to customize his or her e­mail preferences

ter determine which members are more likely

better we can target messages and services

based on several topics, general information,

to volunteer, which may make good leaders,

to the right REALTORS® at the right time in

Preferred PARtners, events, and more.”

and which may have expertise to contribute

their careers. That’s how you provide value.”

to a specific committee or workgroup.

Francks is working with the National Asso­

“We hear from members that they receive

Like Amazon and Facebook, the
Washington and Pennsylvania REALTOR®

ciation of REALTORS® on a data pilot project

associations know every member has unique

REALTORS® have in mind with their new

that may pave the way for all associations to

preferences and needs, and the best way

member data initiative.

benefit from a member data initiative.

to keep them engaged is to offer them what

This is the idea the Washington

“We want to track utilization of benefits,


The backbone of the Washington proj­

they need when they need it.



need to know: small board

Know Everything About Real Estate
Where to find the answers to nearly any real estate question members ask.


ou want your REALTOR® association to be the best resource

ers and sellers, and fellow members. Tip: Extract data from these

for real estate information. Yet for single-staff associations, it

sources for daily or weekly social media posts. If your members or

can be a challenge to keep track of where to find the informa-

local media have other real estate questions not covered here, check

tion members ask for, let alone distribute all the information they

our the NAR Field Guides, one-stop resource packages on dozens of

may benefit from.

subjects of interest organized by topic (, or

Below is a handy guide to NAR’s most popular reports and other
sources of great data for members about real estate, home buy-

contact (e-mail, phone, live chat, Skype) NAR’s information services

Just the Facts: Members,
Consumers, and the Market

State and Local Market Data
For most associations, your MLS is the key

a range of research from NAR including the

NAR’s Information Services department

source for local housing market indicators

Local Market Reports (

offers a great overview of the top real

and your state association economist offers

local-market-reports), which summarize the

estate facts from some of NAR’s most

insights into this data. To compare your state

fundamentals and direction of the nation’s

requested reports and other sources, plus

with other states and areas, NAR maintains

largest metro housing markets; the change

links to those reports here:

a list of links to state REALTOR® association

of home ownership rate for the 100 top


data, which often includes a breakdown by

metro areas; and the quarterly metro area

estate-statistics. This page features

county and metro area (economistsoutlook.

prices and affordability (the top 180 areas).

at-a-glance data from the latest reports

on home buyers and sellers, members,

home-sales-data-by-state). NAR also

Impact of Real Estate Activity reports

FSBOs, home ownership, and more.

provides a state-by-state report on


international transactions (


Insight Into the Current Market


provide numbers relating to the contribution

When members or the media are


of the real estate industry to a state’s

looking for more insight than numbers
can offer, check out the Economists’

Associations in metro areas can tap into

NAR’s State-by-State Economic

economy and GDP.

Outlook blog. Here (economistsoutlook.

On REALTORS® and Firms you’ll find analysis

Associations report that REALTORS® love

asks practitioners about their expecta-

from NAR Chief Economist Lawrence

information about REALTORS®, from average

tions for home sales, prices, and market

Yun and other NAR research experts on

transactions per year to time spent on

conditions, and yields insightful nuggets of

how various economic indicators affect

social networks. NAR offers a range of data

information, such as the biggest reason for

the real estate market, including what

on REALTORS® in these three key annual

delayed closings being obtaining financing,

the data (housing starts, mortgage

reports accompanied by video overviews and

and the biggest reason behind terminated

applications, consumer prices, and

infographics: NAR Member Profile, Profile of

contracts being from home inspections and

more) really mean to REALTORS® and

Real Estate Firms, and Commercial Member

environmental issues. Also check out the


Profile. The “REALTORS® Confidence Index”

“REALTOR® Technology Survey.”

About Home Owners and Sellers
The more members know about trends

“Home Buyer and Seller Generational

Survey, the Profile of Buyers’ Home Feature

among home buyers and sellers, the

Trends” study. Other consumer-focused

Preferences, and the “Digital House Hunt”

better they can target their business

studies, such as the “Community and


efforts. NAR provides the annual Profile

Transportation Preferences Survey,” the

research-reports#home), are published

of Home Buyers and Sellers and the

Investment and Vacation Home Buyers




FALL 2015


need to know: tech

Take Data Beyond Charts & Graphs
Cheap and easy technology transforms information into engaging graphics.


aw data used to be boring. But today’s
infographics have changed the way

leads to career success, or any other idea

easily digestible.
Infographics are not meant to replace

your association seeks to promote. They are

your association’s full reports, surveys, or

also ideal tools for displaying data to lead-

just new versions of charts and graphs; they

guides. Often they are coupled with a link to

ership or your directors about programs,

are a vehicle for sharing all types of information

more information, but they can also be use-

budgets, or services.

more effectively and efficiently than text alone.

ful on their own. In fact, infographics are the

we consume data. Infographics aren’t

Infographics can be fun and powerful if

fastest-growing digital marketing strategy

you use the right tools. Here are some cheap

visual data than what they read or hear. So

in the U.S., according to a survey by Content

and easy online services and apps recom-

as more members use smartphones and

Marketing Institute.

mended by REALTOR® association staff that

Studies show that people retain more

social media to receive association news

Although they lend themselves to display-

enable you to create your own infographics.

and information, infographics make sense.

ing survey data and statistics, infographics

Some offerings are as simple as uploading

They condense and transmit an immense

can convey the benefits of contributing to

your data to a template, while others allow

amount of information that’s quickly and

RPAC, the reasons why continuing education

for full customization.

n Piktochart is an easy

with very limited features

infographic design

are free; costs range from

app that requires very

$15 to $166 per month for

little effort to produce

pro accounts.

beautiful, high-quality
graphics. Cost: Free; a

n features

pro version with more

thousands of free

templates costs $39

infographic templates and

annually (nonprofits),

design objects that users

$290 annually

can customize to create


and share their visual
ideas online. Cost: free

n Vennage enables you

(limited template library);

to feed your data from a

a pro account costs $3

range of formats into its

per month.

library of charts, maps,
and other graphics.

n Canva offers an

Cost: $15 per month

infographic maker and

for corporations, with

design platform with

discounts for nonprofits.

hundreds of free elements

Laura Jenkins Haag, communications
director at the Orlando Association
of REALTORS®, also uses Piktochart
and says, “We recently tried creating a
simplified version (above), and we found
that members are sharing these much
more than the full infographic (below).”

that you can also use

Scottsdale Association of REALTORS®
Communication Director Amanda Sue Piltz
uses Piktochart for frequent infographics
like this one on market data.



FALL 2015

n concentrates

for print graphics, blog

on data visualization,

graphics, presentations,

or making better, more

posters, and more. Cost:

interactive charts and

Many images are free;

graphs. Cost: Accounts

others are $1 each.


Eric Berman, communications director
of the Massachusetts Association of
REALTORS®, creates infographics
in- house. This one highlights monthly
sales data. Berman uses the same layout
each month but changes the colors.

Angela Fabbri, director of marketing and
communications at the Coastal Carolinas
Association of REALTORS®, S.C., uses for regular infographics like this
one on local home sales.
(above) The National Association of REALTORS® expects to release one
infographic with every NAR report going forward, says TJ Doyle, director of executive and digital communication. “Members really enjoy infographics and they
drive our social engagement numbers through the roof,” he says. These three
NAR infographics are available at and at NAR’s social media outlets.

(above) This infographic from the New Jersey Association of
REALTORS® uses data from the National Association of REALTORS®’
Home Buying and Selling Generational Trends report.

Jessica Kern, director
of marketing and
communications at
the Chicago Association of REALTORS®,
launched her first
infographic in June.
“We’ve received a lot of
engagement on social
media from members
sharing on Facebook
and Twitter, and some
media pickup on Twitter
as well,” she says.




need to know: diversity

Encouraging Diversity in Leadership
For understanding member needs, member participation may trump data.
enormous amounts of data about


lative success. How can an association claim

functions, including residential sales, com-

who members are and what they

to represent the needs of home owners in a

mercial sales, and property management.

want. However, data is no substitute for

community when its leadership does not?

“This is going to result in a more diverse and

having members who represent diverse

How can an association achieve the goal of

active board of directors,” he says.

groups on your board of directors or in your

higher professionalism among REALTORS®

volunteer committees.

and abiding by Fair Housing laws when its

members into leadership solely based on

leadership is not inclusive?

their ethnicity or age, for example. Leaders

echnology enables us to capture

For example, your data may indicate
that there’s a growing segment of young,

Diversity is also key to political and legis-

Associations should care about inclusion

find leaders who represent varied business

Yet the association is careful not to invite

need to bring insight into the needs of a par-

tech-savvy, resort-home specialists in your

because it makes good business sense, says

ticular segment of home owners and home

area, but if none of them participates in the

Fred Underwood, NAR’s director of diver-

buyers in the local market. Just because a

association, then your carefully targeted

sity and community outreach programs.

member has a particular backbround doesn’t

programs and services will have a hard time

“Inclusion of diversity helps you achieve

necessarily mean he or she can knowledge-

reaching them.

what you want to achieve, but it isn’t an end

ably represent that market segment.

To be most effective, an association’s

in itself. Diversity in leadership is a process,

board of directors should reflect its diverse

not something you turn on one day and say

Armenian-American president in 2016 who

membership as much as possible, with

you’re inclusive. It’s all a matter of strategic

also graduated from the association’s Lead-

regard to ethnicity, gender, age, business


ership Institute. (The largest population of

Southland Regional will welcome a new

Armenian-Americans in the country is within

focus, and other relevant measures. Lack of
diversity represents a missed opportunity to

Seeking out diversity

Southland Regional’s territory.) “There’s

bring in new thinking, insights, experiences,

The Southland Regional Association of

proof that what we’re doing is working,”

and knowledge about different markets, con-

REALTORS® in Van Nuys, Calif., specifically

says Link.

sumers, and practices. Worse yet, you may

seeks out members of different backgrounds

appear out of touch with members’ needs

and areas of expertise to run for the board,

REALTORS®, CEO Russell Hokanson says he

and less than transparent.

says association CEO James Link, CAE.

has achieved a pretty good balance by mak-

Assembling a board of directors that

Link says the initiative has two primary

accurately represents your membership

goals: to assemble a board that represents

makeup can unlock fresh perspectives, inno-

the diversity (geographic location, race, age,

vation, and organizational creativity.

and other aspects) of its membership and

At the Seattle-King County Association of

ing a “conscious effort” to get new faces on
its board via a number of outreach initiatives.
“Those efforts go on all the time, so
they’re institutionalized in the sense that

A Path to Inclusion –
Where do we start?
w is y
en re
• Ho
re be
ic ch
• Ha
or de



FALL 2015


Actio t the mem ities.
k ou

• See
rs to
n the
ved i
• En


d div
ts co
• Buil
• Lea


need to know: diversity
“I do think we’ve all acknowledged that we’re better off by having
a board that represents all facets of our membership.”
— Russell Hokanson, CEO, Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS®

our leaders know to be on the lookout for

be,” Hokanson says. “Their job is to bring

is by developing leaders who truly represent

that,” says Hokanson. “I do think we’ve all

someone else into the organization to

the makeup of your entire membership.”

acknowledged that we’re better off by having

help us.” As part of that process, he says,

a board that represents all facets of our

members have made conscious efforts

do more to be inclusionary, says Underwood,


to reach out to certain geographic areas

“Diversity needs to be a strategic imperative

within the association’s membership, as well

at every association.”

How to ensure a diverse board

as those potential candidates of specific

Although putting out the word for applicants

ethnicities and age groups.

for our leadership institute attracted some

There’s clearly a need for associations to

—by Bridget McCrea

The members you’re seeking may be

interest, Link says, “to really get to those in-

active in other area organizations specific

dividuals we were targeting, we had to come

to their demographic, such as the Asian-­

right out and ask them. We just got belly to

American Chamber of Commerce or

belly with them and encouraged them to

the Veterans Association of Real Estate



Sponsor a diversity
workshop at your
Leading with Diversity is a course

To associations looking for help in

for association executives, staff, and

recruitment to a program the association is

achieving balance on their boards, all it

member leaders interested in incor-

dedicated to, not simply the routine annual

takes is for the president of the board

porating diversity initiatives into an

process of accepting applications.

to open discussions about potential

association’s business model.

To increase diversity, elevate board

The first step toward inclusion is to iden-

leadership opportunities with REALTORS® of

tify your market segments, says Underwood.

underrepresented membership segments,

You’ll learn how to:

For example, is there a growing commu-

says Roger Turcotte, a New Hampshire–

• Explain to your association

nity of Hispanic immigrants or veterans

based R
­ EALTOR® who provides leadership

the benefits of a leadership,

or gays and lesbians in your area? Which

and strategic planning help to REALTOR®

membership, and staff that reflect

REALTORS® are serving those commu-

associations nationwide. “In most cases,

the community.

nities? Next, he says, “once you’ve found

when associations are running as a clique,”

those members, look for a way to get them

he says, “it’s because no one is reaching out

involved, first on a committee that interests

and encouraging leadership transitions.”

them. Then, when you have an active group

Turcotte sees the Core Standards

• Develop guidelines to identify
an appropriate focus for your
association’s diversity activities.
• Create strategies to involve

of members representing diverse market

strategic planning process as a new tool for

underrepresented members or

segments, begin to build a culture for them

association executives to institute diversity


to enter leadership and involve them in your

awareness. As an approved facilitator for

political activities and other core association

the new planning process, Turcotte worked


closely with a number of associations and
says the majority of the strategic plans

• Identify new leaders and ways to
foster their development.
• Use NAR’s tools to create one or two
key diversity initiatives.

If you don’t ask...

created addressed the issue of future leader-

In Seattle, Hokanson’s best success

ship development and the related training

For more information on NAR’s diversity

attracting new volunteers is with what he

programs, mentoring, and recruiting.

in leadership work group and NAR grants

calls the “peer-to-peer asking” process.

“You want a board that has the ability to

to help you achieve your diversity goals,

“One of the objectives we have for our

look inward at the entire organization when

contact Fred Underwood at funder-

board members is to go out and identify

making decisions and presenting new initia-

your successor, whomever that might

tives,” says Turcotte. “The best way to do this



FALL 2015


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need to know: advocacy

The Next Property Rights Frontier
Figuring out where the right to rent fits into protecting home ownership.


“These limits are problematic for many of

EALTOR® associations are working to
keep up with a flood of new local regu-

our members,” says Rayne, because vaca-

lations on home owners’ ability to rent

tion home owners could lose their livelihood

part or all of their property. It has become a

and so could the REALTORS® who handle

fight for home owners’ rights and property

rentals and property management in the

value on both sides, with many associations

resort area.
In defeating a 2014 call for a rental ban,

feeling caught in the middle.

Coastal REALTORS® backed a compromise

The new rental norm
Home owners are flocking to sign up at websites such as Airbnb and Vacation Rentals By

that included increased enforcement of local
This room in a private home in Allentown, Pa., goes
for less than $100 a night.

owners on how to help their guests be good

Owner, which match people seeking shortterm accommodation with property owners.

noise restrictions and education for property

REALTOR® associations are busy

Indeed, regulation is often the com-

These sites make renting homes easier and

advocating for common ground between

promise between banning and allowing

more popular and home owners are finding

property rights and home owners’ rights, yet

short-term rentals. Regulations are aimed

out how lucrative a spare bedroom can be.

the issues, which vary by location, and are

at protecting the property owner’s right to

There are an estimated 1.5 million properties

often complex.

rent, while giving assurances to surrounding
communities that the rentals will pose no

listed on Airbnb worldwide, and more than 17
million people stayed in Airbnb accommoda-

Right to rent

tions in August alone.

Trey Price, public policy representative at the

threat or disturbance.

The prospect of generating revenue from

Florida Association of REALTORS®, fought

occasionally or regularly renting a furnished

hard to get the state legislature to prohibit

GADs negotiate rental ban
down to rental restriction

basement or an entire house or condo is

new local ordinances on short-term rentals.

In Evanston, Ill., a proposed ban on short-

increasingly attractive to home buyers. Real

Yet a recent amendment now allows com-

term rentals pitted property owners against

estate agents market the rental potential of

munities to regulate anything other than the

one another. Although the final ruling

homes with a guest house, a mother-in-law

frequency and duration of rentals.

required property owners renting for 30

suite, or even a large backyard in which to
build a rental cottage.
The skyrocketing popularity of short-

“We’ve always used the property rights

Handler, government affairs director for the

ment that full-time neighbors have property

North Shore–Barrington Association of

term rentals is prompting local governments

rights as well, we believe there are other

to regulate them in various ways across the

ordinances (noise, trash pickup, parking) to

country. Some communities are imposing

protect them,” says Price.

bans on short-term rentals. Others are re-

Home owners concerned over the noise,

stricting how many rental permits are issued

crowds, and traffic that vacationers can

per neighborhood. Opponents to short-term

bring to certain residential neighborhoods in

rental say these regulations are an attempt

Ocean City, Md., oppose short-term rentals,

to maintain an area’s residential quality of

says Sarah Rayne, government and public

life. On the other hand, some home owners—

affairs director for the Coastal Association of

including second-home owners—believe

REALTORS®. Property owners there are fac-

they should have a right to rent their own

ing new restrictions that would ban rentals of


any time period less than a year.



FALL 2015

days or less to get a special license, Howard

argument, and while there is a counterargu-

An accommodation for rent listing on Airbnb near
Ocean City, Md., where a fight over home owners’
right to rent has been going on since 2014.


“We took the position that we were not there to advocate for those running
quasi-hotels and remained neutral on the final ordinance, but we did want to
ensure the average property owner maintains the right to rent their property
on a short-term basis.”
—Howard Handler, Government Affairs, North Shore–Barrington Association of REALTORS®, Ill.

REALTORS®, advocated for some key

Collecting taxes and licensing fees on

to short-term rentals?

exemptions, including allowing short-term

short-term rentals is a huge new revenue

rentals due to disaster or renovation. Han-

stream for local governments. Chicago alone

will provide a legal review of proposed local

dler also won a provision that lets all owners

expects to collect $2.5 million a year in taxes

ordinances regulating short-term rentals at

rent out their property once a year without a

from its new arrangement with Airbnb, which

no cost to the association. “The short-term

license, and, most important, an exemption

agreed to manage the collection and remittal

rental issue has been a growing trend for

allowing rent-backs, which is when someone

of taxes on behalf of its property-owner

our review program, the Land Use Initiative

sells a home but is unable to move out by

customers in the city.

program,” says Adriann E. Murawski, state

the closing date and needs to rent the home
back from the new owners.
“We took the position that we were not

Often home owners are unaware that

and local government affairs representative

such hotel taxes, sales taxes, income taxes,

at NAR. “We review about 56 proposed ordi-

rental permits, inspections,

there to advocate for those running

or business licenses are

quasi-hotels and remained neutral on the


final ordinance, but we did want to ensure

Over the summer, several

the average property owner maintains the

members of the Greater

right to rent their property on a short-term

Lehigh Valley and Pocono

basis,” says Handler.

Mountains Associations of

In Northwest Montana, instead of

REALTORS® in Pennsylvania

banning rentals outright one municipality

received letters from their

adopted a set of standards that short-term

county treasurer stating that

rental properties must meet. These require-

they owe a 3 percent hotel

ments include meeting fire safety codes,

tax on the accommodations

registering with the state as a commercial

they have listed on Airbnb or

enterprise, and paying a small license fee.

similar sites. The county had

“If they could meet the performance

The National Association of REALTORS®® and Airbnb announced a partnership in June billed as
giving home buyers a chance to test-drive a new neighborhood by
first staying at an Airbnb accommodation in the area. A new feature
on® directs home buyers to an Airbnb offering in the
same area as the listing they’ve clicked on.

hired a consultant to cull Airbnb listings for

nances each year, and this year alone we’ve

standards, they got permission from the city

properties in the area and compare them

seen about eight requests just on short-term

to operate,” says Erica Wirtala, government

with local tax rolls.

rental ordinances.”

affairs director at the Northwest Montana

“Some members were not aware they

NAR offers guidance to associations in

Association of REALTORS®. “The important

would owe taxes,” says Matthew Marks, the

a new white paper on the issue due out in

item was that there is now a contact name

associations’ government affairs director.

October (

and phone number for the owner if things

“The law has been on the books for several


get out of hand with renters and a mecha-

years, but some members did not know it

nism for revoking licenses.”

was being enforced with individual renters.

term rentals because it is a local, not a

Members think the 3 percent is too much

federal, issue. Yet the white paper analyzes

Some taxes may apply

and they are concerned that the tax will be

the issues raised by various regulatory

Although some communities focused on


approaches, provides ways to address

NAR takes no official stance on short-

these issues, and outlines best practices for

regulating or restricting short-term rentals,

short-term rental housing that associations

previous ban, in part, some speculate, to

Pro or con? Preparing
your response

collect new tax revenue from short-term

How should your local association respond

local government officials.


to home owners in favor and those opposed

others such as Portland, Ore., reversed a


and REALTORS® can use in discussions with
—by Carolyn Schwaar

FALL 2015



need to know: core standards

Plan Now for a Smooth 2016
Embed Core Standards in your day-to-day organization practice.


ou know the requirements and

went from 30 local associations to 26 due to

document, and document. Areas where I

understand the rationale for the Core

mergers in the last year.

noticed associations struggling most were

Standards, but you wish you had

with documenting Calls to Action and with

more time to handle all the responsibilities

Essential tools

evidence of being the “The Voice for Real

while keeping up with everything else on

A useful tool to gain insight into Core Stan-

Estate.” A handful of associations needed to

your to-do list.

dards criteria and identify areas of strength

beef up their websites to include the links to

As in life, attitude toward the process

and weakness is the Core Standards Certifi-

Code of Ethics information. (The technology

often determines the outcome. As we move

cation Form. It spells out exactly what needs

guide provides all of the information to

forward, gathering all of the documentation

to be done. Use the form’s tools to help you

have a compliant website.) Another area

can be daunting. But it doesn’t need to be.

structure conversations, committee agen-

of weakness was with financial policies.

das, and task force assignments.

Many associations provided budgets and

I’m the Core Standards Compliance
Liaison for the state of Oregon, a position

Every association brings special char-

financial reports but still needed the actual

that focuses on helping local associations

acteristics to the REALTOR® organization;

policy document. Lastly, AE professional

with all aspects of compliance. Oregon

yet leadership teams, members, and staff

development was highlighted throughout

manages one local association, but several

in all associations have many similarities.

the process.

others have no full-time paid staff, and we

The Core Standards were developed to help
associations identify and

association executives around the country

build on their unique assets

and provided helpful tools. All of the

within the context of shared

resources necessary to become certified

strengths. We are one group

are available on

united by the term REALTOR®

At the NAR Leadership Summit in Chicago, 2016 NAR
President Tom Salomone (above) announced the association’s
new partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of America.
As part of the program, resources to help state and local
associations get involved with their local Boys & Girls Club
are posted at Association involvement with the
organization not only provides volunteer resources to a
valuable organization within your community, it also fulfills
the Community Outreach requirement for Core Standards
(specifically under “Investing in Your Community”).



FALL 2015

Now is the time to get your files ready.

and everything it means. We

It adds more to the mix of daily operational

have built a solid reputation.

duties but will pay off in the long run. The

But as the first certification

purpose of Core Standards is to keep the

cycle is completed and we are

REALTOR® organization strong. This is

in the next cycle, action plans

where I believe attitude comes into play.

need to be put into place for

Once AEs in my area settled down and

any weaknesses that were

relaxed—and tuned into thinking about

identified. That’s a good thing:

the exercise as one to strengthen their

Organizations are only as

organization—it was much easier.

strong as their weakest links.

Community Outreach with Boys & Girls Club

NAR has listened to feedback from

The new compliance form is online so you

Corrective action needn’t

can begin completing and uploading items

be challenging given all the

on a regular basis; working with your fellow

resources you have at your

local AEs and state association staff, you will


be on track for success.
Here’s to a “corefully” compliant 2016!

Ways to make 2016
certification better
Planning is the key to
successful certification. But
don’t forget to document,

Mary T. Burke is the Core Standards
compliance liaison at the Oregon
Association of REALTORS®.
Contact her at 971-273-8892 or


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and more.


need to know: legal

Commissions Vulnerable to Antitrust
REALTORS® who serve on your state’s real estate commission risk
antitrust liability when their decisions appear to protect private monetary
interests rather than advance sound public policy.


eal estate licensees typically serve

ruling could make REALTORS® serving on

Case in point

on state real estate commissions.

real estate commissions liable for antitrust

A state statute created the North Carolina

It’s critically important that REAL­

violations if the commission harms compe­

State Board of Dental Examiners as the

tition in its regulatory capacity.

agency that regulates the practice of den­

TORS® serve on these powerful boards,

The court said state agencies that

tistry in the state. Eight members comprise

granting licenses to real estate brokers and

include industry participants could claim

the dental board: six licensed dentists who

salespeople and regulating their profes­

antitrust immunity only if the agency could

are currently active; one dental hygienist;

sional conduct to writing licensee education

show that its regulatory actions were

and a consumer appointed by the governor.

requirements and certifying real estate

derived from a state policy and that the

The state played no role in the activities of


state actively supervised the commission.

the board.

which have great responsibilities, from

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of

Any member serving on a state real estate

the United States issued an important deci­

commission must ensure that it meets the

teeth-whitening services. Eventually,

sion that affects any state regulatory agency,

above test when it is enacting regulations;

nondentists offered this service at a cost

such as a real estate commission, and the

otherwise the member could be held liable

lower than what dentists typically charged.

individuals who serve on these agencies. The

for antitrust violations.

Even though teeth-whitening was not

In the 1990s, dentists began offering

included within the statutory definition

To lower antitrust liability, states may seek to
change the composition of real estate boards
and commissions or establish a new supervisory
agency to guard against anticompetitive actions.

of dentistry, the board interpreted its
regulatory powers as covering this service
and ruled to ban unlicensed practitioners
from offering this service. Eventually,
the nondentists stopped offering teethwhitening services in the state.
The Federal Trade Commission deter­
mined that the board violated the antitrust
rules by excluding nondentists from the
teeth-whitening market. The board then ap­
pealed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
and lost. The board then appealed to the
U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court affirmed the rulings
of the FTC and the Fourth Circuit. The board
argued that an exception to antitrust law
protects a state’s regulatory activities from
antitrust scrutiny when the state is acting in
its sovereign capacity. However, the court
rejected that argument and ruled that for
a state to qualify for this immunity, it must
satisfy two requirements: the action must




be expressed as a state policy, and the policy must be actively
supervised by the state.
The court determined that the antitrust exception required
more than a mere “facade” of state involvement, particularly
where market participants (i.e., the dentists) were in charge
of enforcing the license law. Instead, when a state agency is
composed of active market participants and they are in charge
of enforcing the state regulations, the state must actively super­
vise the agency to qualify for antitrust immunity. While the court
did not clearly define what would constitute state supervision, it
ruled that the board could not argue for antitrust immunity be­

Opening Doors to


cause North Carolina exercised no supervision over the board.

What does this mean for real estate?
The Supreme Court’s decision in the North Carolina dental
case will likely bring new challenges to regulations made by
state agencies such as real estate commissions. Indeed, one
state real estate commission has already received a threat
that it violated antitrust laws when it attempted to regulate
an unlicensed business.
The decision by the Supreme Court in the North Carolina
dental case has important ramifications for state regulatory
agencies, such as real estate boards, where market participants
regulate other market participants. The decision does
not, however, affect other types of commissions on which
REALTORS® may serve, including economic development
boards or local zoning commissions.
The test established by the court in this case requires a state
to “actively supervise” the agency, and the exact scope of this
requirement is something that will become better defined in
future decisions. What is clear is that active supervision requires

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that the state have the power to review and reverse actions by
the agency. The test also will be applied on a case-by-case basis
and will be determined by the facts of each case.
Real estate licensees serving on commissions should at­
tempt to seek indemnification from the state for their role as
a commissioner and also ensure that the commission qualifies
for antitrust immunity.

Finley Maxson is a senior counsel at the
National Association of REALTORS®. Contact
him at 312-329-8381 or

Conference & Expo
November 13–16, 2015
San Diego

Federally insured by NCUA


AE voices: profile

Embracing the Value of Change
Marc Lebowitz, the 2016 AE Committee chair on outreach and growth


hen Marc Lebowitz, RCE, CAE,

look at what we’ve learned and any changes

has wanted me in the role of spokesperson

stepped into his new role as

that we’d like to propose,” says Lebowitz.

for the association to the media. I’m

CEO of the Tucson Association

“There’s also been a lot of turnover in AE

comfortable with it, but it’s not for

of REALTORS® and MLS last March, he

ranks in the last year or two, so we’d like to

everybody,” he says. “The key is that we’ve

brought with him 23 years of experience in

see if we can add some more structure into

got to put the best team on the field in

REALTOR® association management and a

the AE orientation, mentoring, and training

order to have the best relationships with

passion for change.

that NAR provides to new AEs.”

the media. Whatever the staff role is, it’s

“Coming into a new place, you don’t know

Yet it’s not just new AEs who can benefit

important for us to support the REALTOR®

if your predecessor was a financial wizard

from NAR resources, says Lebowitz. He

spokesperson. I think the AE can bring, as

or a marketing genius, but either way, it’s

wants to encourage colleagues to take

a spokesperson, a really great contextual

all about change,” he says. “I came into this

advantage of NAR programs and services.

value, a broader vision of what the story

“There are some amazing things going

might be. The AE is able to create longer

represents a strong, vibrant association, and

on right now at NAR, and we need to include

relationships with the media so that they

prioritizing that list with our new leadership

checking in with what’s new at NAR in our

look to the association as a trusted source

is what determines our challenges. It’s not

daily routine,” he says.

and a legitimate voice in any housing or

job with my own checklist of what I believe

what was done here before.”
In addition to settling in to a new associa-

His plans to have his staff complete NAR’s
online association management training so

economic development conversation.”
TAR, like many associations, plans to

tion—and moving from Boise, Idaho, where

they are aware of all of the resources that

include more video in its communications

he was CEO of the Ada County Association

NAR offers to help associations do a better

but finding the right way to capture, pro-

of REALTORS®—Lebowitz is also the incom-


duce, and deliver videos is a challenge, says

ing chairman of the National Association

Among the skills Lebowitz brings to

“I just worked on a one-minute promo-

of REALTORS®’ Association Executives

Tucson are his communication talents. His

Committee and has priorities for change

undergraduate work in television and film

tional video for our REALTOR® expo and it

there, too.

honed his natural ease in front of the camera

took me about three and a half hours. That’s

and media savvy.

a pretty big investment,” he says.

“We’ve finished the first year of Core
Standards, and the committee would like to

“Every association I’ve been in before

Mastering the media and video are key
elements of one of TAR’s biggest priorities:
consumer outreach. “We have about a dozen
community outreach and charity events a
year—it’s is a key part of who we are,” says
Lebowitz. “All association strategic plans
after Core Standards have a component
of consumer outreach. In order to make it
work internally, we have to make sure we’ve
identified the most knowledgeable, passionate members in the different niches of our
real estate market and have those people
engaged, committed, and ready to go.”

Tucson Association of REALTORS® CEO Marc Lebowitz (second from left) with Communications Director
Roger Yohem (far left), 2015 TAR President Nicole Brule-Fisher, and 2014 President Steve Redmond
getting ready to open the association’s popular TAR EXPO, an annual real-estate only trade show with
100 exhibitors and 1,400 attendees.



FALL 2015

Look for more on the AEC’s 2016 programs and new resources in Lebowitz’s
chairman column here in REALTOR® AE.


Visit us at booth #911 at the
2015 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Diego

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